Goodbye, Ukraine: Where are Ukraine's foreign officials from previous governments?

Author : Natalia Lebed

Almost five years have passed since foreigners were invited to Ukraine to take up public (mostly governmental) positions
23:08, 29 October 2019

Almost five years have passed since foreigners were invited to Ukraine to take up public (mostly governmental) positions. Involving foreign experts was perceived as pure fresh blood in Ukrainian politics. Without corruption, without nepotism, without hackneyed management methods. Summing up the five-year period, we can state that the results of the experiment were not too successful. The “guests” came to us loudly and left quietly.

Mikheil Saakashvili

Former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili
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The most shocking person from our list. He was the president of Georgia twice. He arrived in Ukraine in 2015 and immediately became an adviser to President Petro Poroshenko, who issued him Ukrainian passport. Saakashvili and Poroshenko hugged in front of the cameras and clapped each other on the shoulder. But the honeymoon in their relationship lasted only a year and a half. On May 30, 2015, Saakashvili became the “governor” in the Odesa region, and in November 2016 he resigned and stepped into stiff opposition to the then-current government.

Related: Former Minister of Economy Abromavičius heads Ukroboronprom defense concern Supervisory Board

July 26, 2017, Saakashvili was deprived of Ukrainian citizenship. At first (in September 2017) he stormed the Ukrainian-Polish border (and still successfully), later he ran away from law enforcement officers along the Kyiv rooftops. But he was caught and expelled to where he came from (to Poland). After Poroshenko’s loss, he returned to Ukraine. And he even tried to take part in the parliamentary elections, but he withdrew his Movement of New Forces party from the parliamentary elections.

Subsequently, Saakashvili announced that he was moving to live in Odesa, where "he would fight the clan of Gennady Trukhanov." (Actually, this is what he is allegedly doing now). Later, however, he stated that he intended to return to Georgia before the 2020 parliamentary elections. Who then will fight with Trukhanov is an open question.

Related: Saakashvili incident: What happened to the draw in the parliamentary elections?

Wojciech Balczun

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And this is the most exotic foreigner. Before becoming the head of Ukrzaliznytsia state railways, Balczun was a rock musician in his homeland (that is, in Poland). Balczun has been heading for 1 year and 4 months (since April 2016). Balczun has been working for many years in the field of infrastructure, and the music was, rather, his hobby in his spare time.

Balczun resigned after two of his subordinates have got involved in a bribe scandal. This happened in 2017. On October 1, 2019, Wojciech Balczun returned to Ukraine. The ex-head of Ukrzaliznytsia came to Kyiv as a guitarist of the Chemia band. He had a performance here.

Related: Ukrzaliznytsia and Ministry of Infrastructure should avoid traffic standstill, - media

Natalie Jaresko and Ulyana Suprun

Jaresko has been heading the Ministry of Finance; Suprun has been serving as an acting healthcare minister. Both Jaresko and Suprun have American citizenship but are Ukrainians by origin.

Jaresko is a successful entrepreneur with an annual income of more than 2 million US dollars. She arrived in Ukraine in December 2014 and received Ukrainian citizenship. Jaresko resigned along with the entire cabinet of her recent boss Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Now she lives and works in the Caribbean, but is not going to return to Ukraine. Jaresko contributed to the establishment of cooperation with the IMF and the restructuring of our external debt.


Ulyana Suprun has a completely different story. She, like Balczun, arrived in 2016. She has been working in Ukraine until 2019, without becoming a “full-fledged” minister and resigning from the post of acting. For some of the society, the radiologist from Detroit Suprun became a model reformer, and for the rest, a classic populist. The medical reform undertaken by Suprun has split not only the population but also the ruling elite. Director of the Center of heart Borys Todurov opposed Suprun, and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) instituted criminal proceedings against the official.

After losing Petro Poroshenko in the presidential election, Suprun left Ukraine. However, she continues to write posts on social media on the topic of health. Suprun was given the nickname "Doctor Death".

Related: Suprun comments on her dismissal: I'll be back

Oleksandr Kvitashvili

Oleksandr Kvitashvili came from Georgia at the end of 2014 and headed the Ministry of Health. He has been holding a similar position for two years - from 2008 to 2010 in his homeland. In 2015, the minister was accused of complete inaction. And even asked for a way out. But Kvitashvili was dismissed only after a year - along with the rest from the office of Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

Aivaras Abromavicius

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Abromavicius could be called the most "tenacious" foreign official. His political and government career in Ukraine began in 2014. One of the main achievements of Abromavicius is the launch of the new Prozorro electronic procurement system. The ex-minister also engaged in the reform of state-owned enterprises, in particular, helped to form a new board of directors in Naftogaz.

And he left the office with a scandal. Like Saakashvili, Abromavicius accused everyone and everything of total corruption. At the beginning of this year, he became friends with the Ze!team, met with the future president Zelensky. The consequences of such a friendship were not long in coming: on August 30, 2019, Abromavicius became the general director of Ukroboronprom state defense concern. And without going through a contest. The last moment can also be considered a manifestation of corruption, but he, apparently, turns a blind eye to such trifles.  

Related: Prosecutor's Office investigates Saakashvili's expulsion from Ukraine in February 2018

Eka Zguladze and Khatia Dekanoidze

Zguladze and Dekanoidze are from Georgia, where they have been working in law enforcement. What they continued to do in Ukraine. For some time, there were rumors that Zguladze could become the Minister of the Interior, but of course, she couldn’t oust current MIA head Avakov. In Georgia, Zguladze worked as deputy head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs from 2005 to 2012. A similar position was offered to her in Ukraine.

As for Khatia Dekanoidze, at home, she has been heading the Police Academy for 5 years, and in 2012 she held the post of Minister of Education of Georgia. Arriving in Ukraine, Dekanoidze became first an adviser to the Minister of Internal Affairs, and eventually, the head of the National Police of Ukraine.

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Both compatriots actively developed reforms in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. But in 2016, both ladies expressed a desire to resign. Like, the reform has been completed, and they have nothing more to do in Ukraine.

David Sakvarelidze, Gia Getsadze, Gizo Uglava

From February 2015, Gia Getsadze served as Deputy Minister of Justice of Ukraine Pavlo Petrenko. He coordinated and controlled the activities of his department with international and public organizations." He was an inconspicuous figure. In 2018, he was dismissed (which almost no one noticed). What he is doing now is unclear, but he recently commented on "Steinmeier’s formula" on the air of one of the Ukrainian TV channels.

Gizo Uglava arrived in Ukraine as a consultant along with other Georgian reformers. He worked on anti-corruption legislation. In 2015, he was appointed as the first deputy director of NABU. Then he received Ukrainian citizenship. Uglava is one of two foreign reformers who still work in the executive branch of Ukraine (the second is Jaanika Merilo).

The official still occupies the chair that was assigned to him back in 2015. Recently, he, along with other NABU executives, has been the subject of accusations of former Prosecutor General of Ukraine Viktor Shokin. According to Shokin, the Anti-Corruption Bureau merges confidential data to the US.

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David Sakvarelidze worked in tandem with the aforementioned Shokin. And he was fired by him a couple of hours before his own resignation. In his homeland, Sakvarelidze was the Deputy Prosecutor General and received a similar position in Ukraine. Being the "deputy" of the general, in September 2016, Sakvarelidze received another seat - the prosecutor of the Odesa region.

Jaanika Merilo

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Yanika Merilo is a well-known businesswoman, investment project manager, and IT person. Her Ukrainian track record includes many positions: adviser to Minister of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine Aivaras Abromavicius, a freelance adviser to the city head of Lviv on the latest technologies, a volunteer adviser to Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine Volodymyr Omelyan, an adviser to the city head of Dnipro on a voluntary basis. She was primarily engaged in electronic control. Now Merilo works as an adviser to the Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov.

Related: Indictment in case of ex-Infrastructure Minister Omelyan delivered at Anti-Corruption Court

Maria Gaidar

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Appearance in Ukraine and the appointment of Maria Gaidar to the post can be classified as the most scandalous. Because after all, she is a Russian woman and a citizen of the Russian Federation. However, Gaidar, like many other guests, received Ukrainian citizenship. This happened in 2015 when the daughter of Yegor Gaidar accepted the offer of Saakashvili to be his adviser.

This duumvirate did not last long. As mentioned above, the Odesa governor retired in 2016. Then his cooperation with Gaidar ceased. But the girl was not taken aback and already in 2017 became an adviser to President Petro Poroshenko. Now Maria Gaidar dreams of being useful to President Zelensky - Russian sources write about this, compensating for the lack of attention to her from the Ukrainian media.

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